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In brief

Steve & Barry’s sold

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge on Friday approved a $163 million acquisition of discount clothing chain Steve & Barry’s.

BHY Holdings LLC said earlier this week it had won a bid to buy Steve & Barry’s for $168 million. A company representative was not immediately available to discuss the court’s decision or say why the purchase price had changed. The acquisition is expected to be completed Monday.

Steve & Barry’s LLC, based in Port Washington, N.Y., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July after ambitious growth plans were hurt by slower spending by consumers and the credit squeeze.

Under the terms of the deal, the new owners will acquire nearly all the assets of Steve & Barry’s and keep the majority of it 276 stores open. The new ownership said it will decide within a week which stores will close based on their profitability. The company opened a store earlier this year in the East End Centre, Wilkes-Barre Township.

$7 billion bond buyback

Federal regulators said Friday that investors who bought risky auction-rate securities from Merrill Lynch & Co. before the market for those bonds collapsed will be able to recover up to $7 billion under a new agreement.

The largest U.S. brokerage will buy back the securities from thousands of investors under a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and other state regulators over its role in selling the high-risk bonds to retail investors.

Merrill also agreed to pay a $125 million fine in a separate accord with state regulators.

Amgen drug approved

Federal regulators on Friday approved a biotech drug from Amgen Inc. to treat a rare blood-clotting disorder.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Nplate for patients with a disorder that causes the body to attack its own platelets, which are tiny components of blood that help with clotting. The condition, which can cause bruising and bleeding after minor injuries, affects about 140,000 people.

Regulators said Nplate is the first drug that directly encourages platelet production by stimulating the patient’s bone marrow.

Mexico investment falls

Direct foreign investment in Mexico has fallen and officials blame it partly on the U.S. economic downturn.

Mexico’s Economy Department says direct foreign investment fell to US$10.5 billion in the first six months of this year, a 20 percent drop from the same period a year before.

Still, the amount puts Mexico on target to reach its US$20 billion goal for 2008.

More than half of Mexico’s direct foreign investment comes from the United States. The European Union follows with a third of all investment.

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